One of the most crucial elements of an effective solicitation letter is to ask for a donation of the right size. If a donor has given $100 to you twice before, you are leaving cash on the table if you suggest a donation of $25. Alternatively, if a donor never gives more than $15 to any organization, you shouldn’t ask them for “$100, $50 or $25”, as you are likely to receive nothing.
It is typically recommended that the lowest suggestion on your ask string match the largest donation this donor has made in the past, rounding up slightly if necessary to reach a common donation amount. This low ask should be preceded by two higher asks featuring amounts that are significantly higher but not unreasonable for this level of donor.
Choosing the appropriate ask string for records on your house list tends to be straightforward, as you can base your request on what that individual has given you in the past. For records on acquisition lists, however, you’re flying blind because you have no giving history.
A solution you may want to consider is to work with a modeling organization. Because they have massive databases containing billions of records, they can recommend an appropriate ask string for most individuals based upon their donations to similar organizations.
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